Pete Winn
January 23, 2009

Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicts the U.S. will be in Afghanistan for years to come.

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In an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, Gates laid out the state of the U.S. military — and how well it is poised to face the future.

Gates, who came to his post under Bush and was asked to stay by Obama, said the ability of the United States to deal with future threats will depend on how it performs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“To be blunt, to fail — or to be seen to fail — in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to U.S. credibility, both among friends and allies and among potential adversaries,” Gates wrote.

Gates said the number of U.S. combat units in Iraq will decline over time – “as it was going to do no matter who was elected president in November,” he added.

“Still, there will continue to be some kind of U.S. advisory and counterterrorism effort in Iraq for years to come,” he said.

In Afghanistan, however, troop levels will likely continue to increase in the year ahead.

“Afghanistan in many ways poses an even more complex and difficult long-term challenge than Iraq — one that, despite a large international effort, will require a significant U.S. military and economic commitment for some time,” the defense secretary and former CIA head wrote.

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